What is chrysotile?
Chrysotile is a non metallic fibrous mineral that shares all the characteristics of asbestos, nevertheless with one big difference: the shape of its fibers. This difference is highly relevant, even there is a general consensus in the scientific community, as stated in the World Health Organization (WHO) in the 2007 report, which indicates that chrysotile and amphibole asbestos should be differentiated.
In Mexico, the use of chrysotile is regulated by several laws and standards, such as NOM 125 - SSA1-1994, which is supported by various authorities and institutions, such as the Ministry of Health through the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS).
Other governmental agencies like the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (STPS), also verify compliance with the regulations regarding the safe use of chrysotile.
Chrysotile is used intensively in the construction and automobile industries, thanks to the physical properties of strength and durability that can hardly be replaced by other materials.
Due to his great qualities, chrysotile has important applications, such as: construction industry (roofs and pipes) in the textile industry, (fire proof fabrics and clothing), automotive industry (clutches, brakes and suspension parts), as well as fire resistant products, like gaskets and seals.
In the construction industry, the chrysotile mixed with cement results in a high-density product for applications in ceilings and pipe lines. In this mixture, chrysotile represents about 8% of the components; the remaining of the mixture is cement and water that encapsulate the fibers in a homogeneous mixture.
It has been demonstrated, that high density products made with chrysotile, do not represent a health risk to the consumers, employees, suppliers, nor to the general population. Unlike the past, the current production processes in which chrysotile is used as raw material, are highly automated and are held in airtight and wet environments in order to avoid workers contact with the fiber.
According with Mexican regulations, all employees working in the industry are medically evaluated every year, as well as being trained continuously in the safe use of chrysotile.
Arising from the safety measures currently implemented by the industry, it can be ensure that there will not be any pathology related to the use of chrysotile.
Chrysotile, like all fibers and building products, could represent a health risk to workers who handle the fibers in an unsafe way and for a long period of time. The risk is reduced by applying safe cutting edge technology. Like other building materials, whose installation is likely to generate dust, it is necessary to use personal protective equipment such as safety glasses and respiratory protection.
Currently, there is no conclusive scientific evidence linking exposure to chrysotile as a cause of pleural mesothelioma, a very rare and particular kind of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, called pleura. By contrast, it has fully demonstrated this relationship between the mesothelioma and amphiboles, which is why its use was abandoned.